On a weekday evening in June we were invited along to sample the food and drinks at Koh Thai Tapas in Bristol. Having been to Thailand and learned about the ingredients and preparation methods, I usually tend to stay away from Thai food in the UK, as I’m afraid it won’t live up to my memories of this fresh and vibrant cuisine. I needn’t have worried. As we walked into the unassuming building on Clifton Triangle, I was struck by how authentic and carefully chosen the decor was, and throughout the evening the whole experience was equally exotic, transporting me right back to those beautiful Thai beaches.
We were greeted by the assistant manager, Lizzie, who was knowledgeable and bubbly and clearly loved her job. She started by recommending the house cocktails, making suggestions according to each person’s favourite spirits. I opted for Summer Daze, a refreshing blend of Larios gin, lime, passion fruit and Midori Melon liqueur. One of my colleagues sampled Holy Smokes, a boozy lemonade for grown ups combining Jim Beam whiskey, holy basil and mint, rounded off with a dash of soda, while the other tried Bye Bye Samurai, inspired by the classic Zombie. In this version Pampero Blanco and Mount Gay rum are mixed with passion fruit, pineapple and lime to give a fruity drink that really packs a punch.
Our welcoming hostess then asked us to tell her our favourite flavours, any allergies and any dislikes, and offered to put together some dishes to showcase the Koh Thai menu.
This was a great way of discovering amazing dishes that we might not have chosen for ourselves. What’s more, the portions were generous and the dishes just kept on appearing. From delicately steamed Thai dumplings to my personal favourite, Thai massaman curry, each one was more delicious than the next. We munched away joyously on Thai green curry with prawns, 24-hour ribs, spring rolls, jasmine rice … the list goes on and on. I really can’t recommend this option highly enough, particularly for large groups, with everyone sharing and passing along each dish and cries of ‘You’ve got to try the tofu’ and ‘I’ve got dibs on the last bit of satay’ echoing round the table.
We’d have loved to try the desserts, but we simply didn’t have room. Lizzie recommended dessert cocktails instead, and we’re glad that we followed her advice. I went for a zingy Lemon Meringue cocktail with Stolichnaya Citron vodka and Licor 43 citrus liqueur, while my colleagues had an outstanding Espresso Martini and a smooth, luxurious Kohcoa cocktail made with Stolichnaya vodka, rich dark chocolate liqueur, coconut and double cream.
Koh Thai also does an express lunch for only £10 and all served within 30 minutes – ideal for entertaining clients or for a work celebration. What’s more, they have a beautiful courtyard at the back of the building, which is perfect for catching the afternoon sun.
Even as I’m writing this article, I’m longing to go back. Koh Thai will definitely be top of my list next time I’m looking for somewhere special to go to in Bristol. If you’ve got a birthday or an anniversary coming up, take my advice and go to Koh Thai Tapas.